May 27, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque (17) celebrates his goal against New York Rangers with teammate defenseman P.K. Subban (76) during the third period in the game five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Rene Bourque’s Playoff Should Not Stop Montreal Canadiens From Buying Him Out


When Rene Bourque was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens midseason in 2012, he was the key piece in a trade that sent Habs playoff hero Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames. Bourque did his best playoff Cammalleri impression this spring, but was it enough for the Habs to keep him around next season?

Before this lengthy playoff run, where Bourque was a huge story at times, he was nothing short of abysmal for the Canadiens. His last two full seasons with the Flames, Bourque scored 27 goals each year and was on an identical pace before the trade to Montreal, when he had 13 goals in 38 games for the Alberta team.

May 27, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque (17) celebrates his goal against New York Rangers during the third period in the game five of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The problem was Bourque had just three assists in those 38 games, and his goal scoring abilities did not travel with him to Montreal. Bourque played 38 games with the Habs that season as well, and his awful assist total remained consistent. He once again chipped in just a trio of helpers in half of a season, but his goal total dropped to five.

His lockout shortened 2013 season was his best regular season as a Hab, when he scored seven goals and 13 points in 27 games. For a 3.33 million dollar cap hit that is not what a team is looking for as your best year.

This past regular season was the worst in Bourque’s career. Bourque scored nine goals and 16 points in 63 games for a Habs team desperate for offense all season. He was a frequent healthy scratch, and heading into the postseason it was not guaranteed he would even play.

An Alex Galchenyuk injury late in the season opened up a roster spot for Bourque and he took full advantage of it, for a short while at least. Playing alongside a reborn Lars Eller and Brian Gionta, Bourque had four goals and five points in the Habs first five postseason games, but then had just one point in the next eight games. He was great against the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one, and had two points in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins, but was held scoreless for the last six games of that second round series.

He then had five points in the last four games against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, including a hat trick in a wild Game 5 win that kept the Habs alive for one more game.

At 6’2” and 220 pounds, Bourque has an envious package of size and skill, but rarely uses either, especially in his two and a half seasons with the Canadiens. Including his impressive postseason, Bourque has now suited up for 150 games as a Montreal Canadien, he has 31 goals and 20 assists for 51 points. This means if he plays all 82 games next season, his averages tell you he should score 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points.

May 27, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (76) collects hats thrown on the ice after the third goal scored by teammate Rene Bourque (not pictured) during the third period in game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

What makes these numbers worse is Bourque has been forced into top six minutes and has played with Tomas Plekanec for most of his career in Montreal. It is not like the Habs were using him on the fourth line regularly, he was guaranteed second line left wing for years and never earned the role. Finally, Galchenyuk usurped him for that role this season, but Bourque failed miserably to replace Cammalleri, or even to be a reasonable facsimile.

Sure, Bourque had a few great games for the Canadiens this postseason, but if anyone offers even a 7th round pick at the draft, I would send the overpaid underachiever away without a second thought.

Apr 20, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Anders Lindback (39) and Montreal Canadiens forward Rene Bourque (17) watch the puck during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Bourque has two more seasons left at a 3.33 million dollar cap hit, and at the age of 32 is not about to hit his prime. His two 27 goal seasons with the Flames were his peak, and unfortunately for Montreal he is not even close to that level anymore. Blame his concussion history, call him lazy, or maybe he was lucky, but to expect even 20 goals from him next season is laughable.

Even if there are no trade takers, which is highly likely even after his eight goal postseason, the Canadiens have to buy out the final two years of Bourque’s contract. This would save the Habs $1,666,667 against the cap for the next two years, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but could be the difference in finding room for a veteran who contributes such as Brian Gionta.

The Canadiens already have about 25 million in cap space, but need to find room for their two best defensemen, P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, as well as Lars Eller who was their best forward in the playoffs. That 25 million is going be a much smaller number once Markov and Subban ink new deals, but the few extra dollars may be even more important a year from now when Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu start earning more than their entry level pennies.

Bourque was reduced to a third line role at best this season, and that role could easily be replaced by someone like Michael Bournival who actually shows up to play every night. Bournival may not bring a lot offense on a consistent basis, but he had one stretch early in the year where he scored 11 points in 17 games.

Bourque had those exact same numbers in the playoffs, he just had his one good stretch in three years at the right time. Wouldn’t you rather have a 22 year old with speed, intensity and penalty killing abilities on your third line instead of a 32 year old who showed up for you once in three years?

I know I would. Bourque’s second last game as a Hab may have been an epic Cammalleri like playoff hat trick, but if it were up to me I would make sure it was the second last game he ever played in a Montreal sweater, no matter the cost.

Tags: Featured Montreal Canadiens Popular Rene Bourque

  • HabsVt

    I would think they maybe able to trade him at this point and that would be a good idea. I would like to see Moen go as well but there is probably no market for him.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      He has been inconsistent his entire career, and has been awful for three years. If any GM only watched the Tampa series and then Game 5 against Rangers they may trade for him, but I think it is a long shot. Moen is replaceable as well, but at least he can kill penalties and gives a decent effort

  • HabsVt

    Briere and Moen might make sense for buyout as there is $5.85 million tied up there with very little to show for it. Those probably make more sense then Bourque. I would look to trade Bourque and see what offers come back. Montreal should agressively look at Moulson, Stasny and Gaborik. They should walk away from all their free agents but Weaver. Obviously they need to sign the some RFA’s Subban, Eller and Weise. They should still have money to land another scorer or two if they play there cards right.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      If they could find a way to get rid of Briere and Bourque it would be ideal, but I don’t see either being traded as their is no market for overpaid players. Moen I am not so worried about as he is still a good penalty killer and is at least a hard working veteran than can play a 4th line role. Sure he is a bit overpaid as well, but he fits a small role which is more than I can say for Briere and Bourque who just don’t fit anywhere.
      I agree with letting most free agents walk, but think they should bring back Weaver and Markov if the price is right. I think the biggest need is a winger that can play top two lines and score, so Moulson and Gaborik make sense for sure. Iginla, Callahan and even Vrbata or Cammalleri would be other targets for me. All depends on length and dollars on the contract. Hard to find a perfect fit in free agency sometimes

      • HabsVt

        I agree with your points and you are correct Moen is good at the PK. We are totally in agreement on free agency I like all of your players with Callahan being overpriced. It seems that there is not much ready in Hamilton for forwards so at least one maybe two will come via free agency (length and dollars on the contract will be key)

        • Dar Krum

          Free agency is tough because you are going to have to overpay. That is the nature of the beast there. It is really important to do the homework and get it right. My gut tells me (for whatever that is worth) that the only one of the bunch that might be a good fit long term and for more than he is worth is Moulson.

          • Kenny MacMillan

            Moulson would be a great fit. I would rather the Habs get a right winger but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to finding goal scorers. If Callahan still thinks he is getting 6 mil for 6 years the Habs won’t even make an offer.
            Bergevin is a smart GM, and sometimes the best move is to stay away from crazy bidding wars.

          • HabsVt

            I agree bidding on Gabork may (and probably will) get out of control. The best route may be some trade package that includes Bourque maybe some draft picks depending on what is coming back. Kenny mentioned Vrbata he might make sense on a two year deal

      • LES HABS

        stop with this cammeleri shit and iginla who is old,We need size When will you people realize that,SIZE SIZE SIZE!!!!!!!!,And therrien better wake the fuck up and play galcheynuk.the kid is a stud,He should be your number one center not this third and fourth line bullshit,PLAY THE FUCKING KIDS!!!!!!

        • HabsVt

          I do agree that Therrien hasn’t been great with the kids Galchenyuk gets moved around too much and not enough minutes. It also pissed my off how they would play Bouillon and Murray over Beaulieu and Tinordi. In the regular season and that would have lead to more time in the postseason. I would say that was his biggest mistake.

          • LES HABS

            I agree

  • Dennis

    the only bright spot in the playoffs for us and you want to get rid of him. get lost rangers fan

    • Kenny MacMillan

      Only bright spot? Did you not see Price, Subban, Tokarski, Eller? Bourque was not the reason the Habs made it to the Conference Final, and has been dragging this team down for years

    • LES HABS

      dude He sucks

  • Dennis

    keep the team intact

    • HabsVt

      Makes no sense. Why would you even remotely think of signing Bouillon/Murray? Gionta and Markov are possible at less money. As far as Vanek…way too much money for someone who doesn’t give 100% all the time. That doesn’t even cover some of the players that Montreal should trade …one
      too many goalies or buyout Briere for instance. Certainly Montreal should see what Bourque may get in a trade. You are aware of the salary cap correct?

      Montreal can’t just keep the team intact that is absolutely crazy.

  • Tom

    Never thought of it but I agree… but would you rather a pick or a prospect because I don’t know if teams are willing to trade a consistent contributor for Bourque. If you choose pick Therrien has to be ready to turn over the reins to younger players which he has trouble with.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      I would definitely rather a pick or prospect, but you are right about Therrien. Maybe they use the savings to sign another veteran, but I am just tired of watching Bourque try once every ten games

      • Tom

        Ya I know but it’s a tough situation Therrien/ Marc is in because Gally, Chucky, Beaulieu , and Tinordi like you said are going to cost a pretty penny so signing a free agent would be tough even though Briere’s contract is up next year hopefully Moen’s contract is up too but you just have to be carefully how short of a window they might have to win the cup too especially I hate how Therrien doesn’t use younger players… they’ll never end up developing!!! Plus it’d save on cap room to sign a free agent or trade to free up that cap room and there is going to be even less room if they resign Markov and/ or Gionta… I hope they don’t but I do hope they resign Weaver to help the younger D men

        • Kenny MacMillan

          you are exactly right in saying they are weak on the wing.I keep hearing people say they have to move Galchenyuk to center, but what is the point if Prust and Weise are his wingers? I think we will see Plekanec moved next summer when there is one year left on his deal and new contracts for the young guys will kick in. It would be one of the only ways to make room under the cap, especially if the four young guys you mentions have great seasons and demand big money.

          • Tom

            And even bourvinal will demand more money too… But ya I think that’d be the smart thing to do and move Eller to second line this year play him and chucky together maybe along with a good winger maybe even bourvinal and have the bottom six be all vets but hopefully some younger guns will make it in training camp this year to make some more people disposable